Bodies and healthiness and image and mental health

In intellectual circles, we often prioritize the mind over the body. I live in these circles, I’m not going to lie. Except that I also live in upper-middle-class California where life tends to revolve around exercise. How many steps do you average? If you run, what’s your mile time? Do you ride your bike to work?

If I’m honest with myself, I worry that I’m walking every day not to be healthy, but to conform to what American society has decided that the optimal female body shape should be. Am I just policing myself so that I don’t get yelled at by other people? Or am I really trying to be healthy?

These are the themes that Roxane Gay is dealing with in Hunger, except that her body issues ┬ástem from trauma – she was gang-raped at 12. She gained weight to stay safe, to hide. She’s had eating disorders. She’s been through therapy, and is working to get healthy. All of this is laid bare in her memoir.

She also talks about desire; we hunger not just for food but also for connection to other people. Men’s desires are much more catered to in society (duh) than women’s, but that doesn’t mean that women don’t desire.

I would recommend this, if only to remind you that you have a body and what it looks like is part of who you are along with what you say and do.